Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own form of devolved government.
Scotland has the greatest autonomy of the three, and with the recent referendum on independence and the subsequent Smith Commission Report detailing heads of agreement on further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, this is likely to increase. The majority Scottish Nationalist Government sets policy across a wide range of responsibilities, with distinctive approaches across areas such as health, education and local government. Services such as water and transport are also managed differently. The public sector in Scotland is on a different reform trajectory from England, and significant change has been seen in recent years, for example the amalgamation of regional police and fire services into two national (i.e. Scotland-wide) bodies. We work with a range of public sector bodies, including local authorities, NDPBs, further and higher education bodies and the new national fire service.
The Northern Ireland Assembly takes responsibility for devolved matters in Northern Ireland. Following the recent merger of our two practices in Ireland to create an all-Ireland approach, public sector work in Northern Ireland is now the responsibility of our Irish firm.
Scotland is served by a professional team of over 15 specialists across audit and advisory across the Edinburgh and Glasgow offices. Through these teams we are able to deliver the full range of assurance and advisory services to public sector clients and also have a number of sector specialists who operate across the UK as part of the wider team, specifically in education, transport, street-lighting, outsourcing, and energy & cleantech, including waste and renewables.
Since devolution in 1997, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), now Welsh Government (WG), developed policies distinct from those in England across a number of areas. Notably WG has encouraged collaborative working between local authorities and set the bar higher in terms of waste management requirements with initiatives targeting landfill, food waste treatment and overall recycling in Wales. In particular WG has driven the waste sector forward with direct financial support to the local authorities pursuing technologies and solutions that are renewable and meet requirements of energy recovery. The National Assembly recently gained powers to create laws on environmental issues and has voted in favour of a referendum on broader law-making powers.
Wales is served by a professional team of 70 specialists based in Cardiff and Bristol. Grant Thornton is one of the principal suppliers of external audit services to local government through its contract with the Wales Audit Office (WAO). Grant Thornton also provides a wide range of assurance and advisory support to local authorities on governance and scrutiny arrangements. It has and continues to work closely with WG and local authorities in Wales to support the delivery of their environmental and sustainability agenda through strategic investment in waste infrastructure. Wales has championed a collaborative approach amongst local authorities creating a number of procurement ‘hubs’. As a leading adviser in the sector, Grant Thornton has advised WG at programme level on the likely costs of pan-Wales investment in waste infrastructure and is engaged by a number of hubs on their PPP projects for residual waste treatment and food waste treatment. Grant Thornton was the advisor on the two food waste projects in North Wales that successfully reached financial close in 2012.